A recent study published by Lancet suggests that South Korean women will be the first in the world to have an average life expectancy above 90.
The WHO and Imperial College London study analyzed life spans in 35 industrialized countries.
It predicted all would see people living longer in 2030 and the gap between men and women would start to close in most countries.
The researchers said the findings posed big challenges for pensions and care for elderly people.
The data also forecasts that Japan, once the picture of longevity, will tumble down the global rankings.
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Japan currently has the highest life expectancy for women, but will be overtaken by both South Korea and France, the study suggests. Meanwhile, male life expectancy will go from the fourth highest to 11th out of the countries studied.
The US also performs poorly and is on course to have the lowest life expectancy of rich countries by 2030.
The study predicts an average age of 80 for men and 83 for women – roughly the same state Mexico and Croatia will have achieved.
The US will be overtaken by Chile, where women born in 2030 will expect to live for 87 years and men for 81.
The study also shows the gap in life expectancy between women and men is closing.
Much of the increases are due to improvements for the over-65s rather than reductions in deaths during childhood.
The study made the projections in a similar way to the methods used by meteorologists to forecast the weather.
It combined 21 separate mathematical models that analyzed past trends to make projections into the future.
This approach indirectly takes account of all the different factors – smoking rates, medical advances, obesity patterns – that are changing life expectancy.
The study assumes countries continue to progress as they are, so exceptional, unpredictable events equivalent to the fall of the Soviet Union, or huge breakthroughs like a vaccine for all cancer, would massively alter the forecasts.
Australia has been ranked as the world’s happiest country among developed economies for the third year running.
Australia won the top position, due to the overall strength of its economy, in the Better Life Index compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Sweden, Canada, Norway and Switzerland also made it to the top five.
The survey ranked more than 30 countries on criteria such as income levels, health, safety and housing.
“Australia performs exceptionally well in measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index,” the OECD said on its website.
More than 73% of Australia’s 23 million people aged 15 to 64 hold a paid job, which is above the OECD average.
Life expectancy at birth is also higher, at almost 82 years.
Australia has been ranked as the world’s happiest country among developed economies for the third year running
Australia’s economy has posted more than two decades of straight growth due to demand for its natural resources.
The nation also managed to sidestep the worst of the financial crisis and was the only major developed nation to avoid the global recession in 2009.
The country’s economic strength has been reflected in the Australian dollar, which is currently trading close to 30 year highs.
However, the government is starting to see challenges to growth as the mining boom tapers off, including rising unemployment.
As a result, Australia’s Labour government is now looking to move the economy away from its dependence on mining towards sectors such as construction and manufacturing.
Another challenge they face is a widening income gap. According to the OECD, the top 20% of Australia’s population earn six times more than the bottom 20%.
A Japanese study suggests women live longer than men partly because their immune systems age more slowly.
As the body’s defenses weaken over time, men’s increased susceptibility to disease shortens their lifespan, say Japanese scientists.
Tests of immune function could give an indication of true biological age, they report in Immunity & Ageing journal.
The immune system protects the body from infection and cancer, but causes disease when not properly regulated.
The study set out to investigate the controversial question of whether age-related changes in the immune system could be responsible for the difference in average life expectancy between men and women.
Prof. Katsuiku Hirokawa of the Tokyo Medical and Dental University and colleagues analyzed blood samples from 356 healthy men and women aged between 20 and 90.
A Japanese study suggests women live longer than men partly because their immune systems age more slowly
They measured levels of white blood cells and molecules called cytokines which interact with cells of the immune system to regulate the body’s response to disease.
In both sexes, the number of white blood cells per person declined with age as expected from previous studies.
However, closer examination revealed differences between men and women in two key components of the immune system – T-cells, which protect the body from infection, and B-cells, which secrete antibodies.
The rate of decline of most T-cell and B-cell lymphocytes was faster in men, while men also showed a more rapid age-related decline in two cytokines.
Two specific types of immune system cell that attack invaders – CD4 T-cells and natural killer cells – increased in number with age, with a higher rate of increase in women than in men.
The researchers believe a person’s immunological parameters could provide an indication of their true biological age.
“Age-related changes in various immunological parameters differ between men and women,” Prof. Katsuiku Hirokawa and colleagues report in the online journal Immunity & Ageing.
“Our findings indicate that the slower rate of decline in these immunological parameters in women than that in men is consistent with the fact that women live longer than do men.”
CIA World Factbook color-coded map reveals the startling difference in life expectancies across 222 of the world’s countries.
The map shows how people are likely to live the longest in developed countries with state-funded healthcare systems like Japan, Canada and the UK, which each have average life expectancies of over 80 years.
The tiny tax haven of Monaco – with its notoriously wealthy inhabitants and compulsory state-funded health service – has the highest life expectancy at an average of 89.68 years, five years higher than anywhere else on earth, according to the CIA World Factbook. The country with the worst life expectancy is the African state of Chad at a shocking 48.69 years.
Life expectancy in America ranks 51st in the CIA’s table at 78.49 years – lower than Canada (81.48), Australia (81.90), New Zealand (80.71), Japan (83.91), the UK (80.17) and much of Europe.
Of the top five longest-living nations the only large country is Japan, with the rest being city states (see box).
Life expectancy levels in South America and generally 10 years lower than those in North America.
People are likely to live the shortest in sub-Saharan Africa, with no country in that vast region having an average life expectancy of over 60.
CIA World Factbook color-coded map reveals the startling difference in life expectancies across 222 of the world’s countries
Only a few Asian countries, including Afghanistan (49.72) and a couple of Caribbean nations, have such similarly short life expectancies compared with Africa.
The worst countries to live in if you want to reach old age are Afghanistan (49.72), Swaziland (49.42), South Africa (49.41) Guinea-Bissau (49.11) and Chad (48.69), whose people are generally expected to die before they even reach middle age.
The figures confirm that women on average live longer than men. Life expectancy for a woman in Monaco is 93.77 years compared with that of a man at 85.74 years.
In Chad life expectancy for men is only 47.61 years while women are expected to live slightly longer to 49.82 years.
While The United States has consistently fallen in the rank of world nations over the last 50 years, the average life expectancy has risen from 69.8 years in 1960 to 78.49 today.
And while Chad’s figure of 48.69 today is shockingly low, in 1960 Afghanistan had the world’s lowest life expectancy at 31.3 years.